Sept 11-17th is the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) UK Business Safety Week. The aim is to ensure businesses have the information they need to prevent, protect and respond to fire incidents .
Compliance with the law means you are protecting your business, premises and employees. It also means you are likely to be prepared if the worst does happen and fire occurs at your business. If you are a business owner, or responsible for a business premises, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order means legally you must reduce the risk of fire, and make sure people can safely escape in the event of a fire. Non compliance can lead to enforcement which poses a financial, legal and reputational risk to your business.
Danny Clarke is Group Operations Director for the ELAS Group. He says: “Given that there was a 21% increase in fire fatalities last year, we would advise all those individuals who have a clear responsibility under the law to check that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure their premises meet relevant fire safety requirements, and the premises are effectively maintained to provide protection and keep their employees safe in the event of a fire. It would also be pertinent to ensure that they have the appropriate systems and resources available and utilised to manage any fire safety risks effectively.”
“The Government’s announcement on the independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower fire is a welcome step to improving the management of fire safety across the UK, and we look forward to providing support in this important area.
“There have been several high profile corporate prosecutions for breaches in fire safety including multinational oil and gas company Shell International, who were fined £300k plus £45k costs in 2007 for breaches under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Also in 2007, retailers New Look were fined £400k following a huge fire in their Oxford Street store.
“As a business owner you also need to ensure that you engage with competent assessors. The law also clamps down heavily on private fire risk assessors who fail to provide adequate fire risk assessment reports. In March 2015 Craig Stonelake pleaded guilty for failure to provide an adequate fire risk assessment report for a large restaurant in Newton Abbot. He was fined £7,000 for failing in his duty to undertake this work to an appropriate standard, thereby placing people who used the premises at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire occurring.
“Another serious offence can be seen in the 2011 case of Lui and O’Rourke. David Lui, a hotel operator, and John O’Rourke, who had been contracted to carry out fire risk assessments, were both jailed for eight months after admitting multiple breaches of the Fire Safety Order. Mr Lui was also fined £15,000 and Mr O’Rourke £5862.
“We also advise business owners to take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that they are compliant with the law. You should always seek advice should you have any doubts.”